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‘Very different’ fund helping to improve grassroots sport in Wales

Some of the projects also delivered environmental improvements (IMAGE: Sport Wales)
Burying low-hanging power lanes underground and a project to remove poisonous algae from a swimming lake are among the initiatives to benefit from “A Place for Sport” funding in Wales. Launched in 2021, the fund offers up to £15k worth of investment to projects designed to help community clubs and organisations to improve the overall experience of grassroots sport. 


While some of the projects it has supported so far have been unusual, the way the funding initiative itself is non-traditional too. Up to half of it is provided from public funding, through Sport Wales, but it also relies on crowd-funding. 


It’s a very different fund to anything offered previously in Wales as it requires clubs to raise at least half of the money themselves by crowdfunding via the Crowdfunder website,” says Owen Hathway, Sport Wales’ Assistant Director for Insight, Policy and Public Affairs.


“We trialled ‘A Place for Sport’ for six months and are pleased to now be extending it for the next year. Clubs have created some really appealing crowdfunding campaigns that have drawn support from well over a thousand people. 


“When running a crowdfunding campaign, volunteers learn a host of useful skills around member and community engagement, social media communications, business to business marketing and general fundraising. 


“As a result, this process helps clubs become sustainable for the long-term and set themselves up in a way that creates a cycle of success, not simply a positive one-off application for funding. 


“We’ve been really impressed with how clubs have come up with creative solutions to problems – both big and small – that will make grassroots sport better, either by improving the all-round experience, helping a club become more economically sustainable, or by contributing positively to the environment.”


Among the clubs who embraced the opportunity are the Ponthir Sports and Community Club in Newport. As overhead power lines blighted a large area of their Oaklands sportsground, the club set up a crowdfunding project to raise enough money to pay Western Power to bury the cables so that more sport can be played there. A £10,500 grant from Sport Wales helped the club to achieve their overall £35,000 fundraising target.


In Flintshire, funding is being used to remove poisonous blue green algae from the ‘Park in the Past’ beauty spot to make a lake suitable all-year round for swimming, kayaking and diving. Boosted by £4,050 from Sport Wales, a local community group raised a total of £13,560 to pay for a sustainable water treatment programme which includes the installation of two ultrasonic buoys that will emit ultrasound waves. The soundwaves are harmless to the wildlife in the lake, but will reduce the dangerous algae by over 90%.
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